“I believe legends and myths are largely made of truth.” - J.R.R. Tolkien
he story of Ramayana is the story of a man whom legend turned into a god. Lord Ram, also known as the Maryada Purshottam (The Ideal Man), is one of the highly revered gods throughout the Indian sub-continent. Ramayana is the classic old tale of the everlasting battle between good and evil, where good will always triumph over evil. After all, everyone loves the old-fashioned happily-ever after ending. There are various mythological facts and figures which point towards the fact that maybe the Ramayana was true. Maybe, just maybe, the Gods actually walked amongst us. And one such point of reference is the Ram Setu Bridge. For those of you unaware of what I’m talking about, the Ram Setu Bridge is the fabled bridge built by the Vanar-Sena (Lord Hanuman’s monkey army) across the great Bay of Bengal, to facilitate the travel to Lanka, in order to rescue Lady Sita. The interesting thing here is the fact that the Ram Setu Bridge has often been claimed to be the oldest ever man-made bridge, thereby giving a small glimpse into a world where the Ramayana is not just another mythological story about Gods. It’s a possible retelling of actual events.
Valmiki’s Ramayana: A story of love, valour, sacrifice and duty, above all.
To take it from the top, let me just give you a brief overview about how the bridge came into existence. And this version of existence is as it is described in Valmiki’s Ramayana, recited and written in the 5th century BC. Here’s how it goes:
As Lord Ram and his Vanar-Sena reach the coast of present-day Tamil Nadu, Lord Ram threatens the Sea God (also referred to as the Samudra Raja) to provide him passage to Lanka, which, upon non-compliance, will force the Lord to shoot an arrow, blessed by Lord Brahma. The arrow, when fired, renders a place completely infertile, where all life forms cease to exist thereby making it the geographical equivalent of a vast, lonely desert, and enabling the Lord and his army to travel across the ocean. Fearing the worst, the Sea God presents himself before the Lord and instead asks him to throw stones, bricks, rocks, whatever available in the nearest vicinity, with the name “Shri Ram” written over them, and he’ll make them float. And thus, the famous Ram Setu Bridge is created which makes the seemingly impossible task of travelling to Lanka possible in just a matter of few days.
A magnified, satellite generated image of the Ram Setu, as seen from space.
Now coming to the topic of discussion here: “Is the bridge actually a significant indicator to the possibility of the Ramayana being real? Or is just a natural occurrence?”
Here’s what scientists have to say. The floating stones rest atop a thin strip of sand also known as ‘sandbar’. These are areas where the water runs shallow, thereby generating a faint picture of a route, albeit really thin, to the Mannar Island of Sri Lanka. Now here’s where things get interesting. According to Chelsea Rose, historical archaeologist and adjunct faculty member at Southern Oregon University, the sandbar is only 4,000 years old, while the rocks are 7,000 years old. The fact that the rocks predate the sand, adds volumes of speculations to the story. Although not scientifically confirmed, this theory is a possible proof of the Ramayana’s existence. Also, the floating rock seen in the Pamban Island of Tamil Nadu, are said to be age old rocks made up of a volcanic eruption-residue. Due to the rapid heating and cooling after the eruption, these rocks have uneven pore formation, thereby making them less dense than water and as a result enabling them to float on water.
The sandbar, which directs the route to the Mannar Island of Sri Lanka.
In conclusion, to be able to prove that the events of Ramayana were actual events taken place in real-time world, we would need a whole lot more evidence than some disputed route of land through sea. The question will always remain unanswered with multiple theories cropping up every other day. The Ram Setu Bridge may not be what we’re looking for, but it’s more than what we need. And fact is, we don’t need concrete proof to believe in the Almighty. Sometimes, a little faith is more than enough. For sometimes the answers we’re looking for, are best left unanswered.